Understanding the Impact of Costa Rica’s Maritime Zone on Your Purchase of Beachfront Property

  • 4 months ago

If you’re considering buying property in Costa Rica, it’s crucial to understand the importance of the Maritime Zone. In this area, 95% of properties are subject to regulations governed by the Maritime Zone Law. Before making any decisions regarding estate in Costa Rica beachfront properties, seek legal advice to comprehend the Maritime Zone Law and its associated regulations fully.

The Maritime Zone covers 200 meters horizontally from the high tide line. It is divided into two zones: the Public Area and the Restricted Area. The Public Area extends for 50 meters from the tide mark. It is considered public land where private ownership or development is not permitted. This zone is open for use, reflecting Costa Rica’s commitment to maintaining beaches.

Properties with fee titles located within this zone grant owners rights regardless of whether they are foreigners or Costa Ricans. This type of ownership provides control over the property, including the ability to sell, lease, and make improvements according to Rican law.

On the other hand, concession properties involve leasing arrangements granted for a period with renewals that are rarely, if ever, denied.  People who own concession properties can develop and divide them as long as they have the permits. While concessions do not require property taxes, there is a fee of 2.5% called “canon,” which is based on the property’s value.

Foreigners need to consider factors regarding concession properties. They may have majority ownership if they have lived in Costa Rica for five years. However, if they have less than five years of residency, their ownership is usually limited to a minority share. Many foreigners choose to establish corporations where a Costa Rican citizen holds at least fifty percent of shares to navigate these restrictions.  There are Trust companies in Costa Rica that will hold the major interest of the shares if you don’t meet the five-year rule.  

Concession properties must be registered in the Public Registry of Properties. Potential buyers are strongly advised to ensure registration through their attorneys, who can provide information about property ownership within the Maritime Zone.

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